Downward Forward Dog. Double Plow. Reclining Bound Angle.
No, these aren't names of kinky sex positions (although they can be), but yoga poses designed to help get your mind and body right. It's a practice that actress Shelah Marie and her boyfriend, rapper Ace Hood, know all too well. In fact, it's part of what caught my eye when a post of the couple went viral with the caption:
“Get yourself a black spiritual feminist from Erykah Badu Twitter and be happy like Ace Hood."
It lead me to scour their Instagram pages, where images of Ace Hood—legs crossed, hands open in quiet meditation—graced his feed, while images of Shelah giving #bodygoals popped up with every downward scroll. I was certainly loving the cute selfies the couple took together, but it was an image of them meditating together that really stood out.
One, because seeing a rapper who's actually being still is freaking amazing. Outside of Russell Simmons and David Banner, I don't know too many hip hop artists who speak openly about meditation. Also, they both looked to be at such peace—with themselves, and one another.
While the physical benefits go well beyond the mat, it's the mental benefits that Shelah believes is essential to helping couples in and outside of the bedroom. “You have to sit and listen to yourself and be comfortable with yourself, and you also have to do the hard work. And I think yoga, when you practice sitting in a very uncomfortable position for a long period of time, that mindset is transferrable to other parts of your life."
Everyone is looking for that secret formula for a happy and fulfilling relationship. Great communication, willingness to compromise, and fulfilling your partner's needs are just a few tidbits that married couples have passed down to those of us who are single or navigating the murky waters of love. But what if someone told you the answer lies not just within your actions, but in your attitude? And that embracing the ancient practice of yoga can help prepare you for the trials and tribulations of relationships?
When Shelah first started doing yoga four years ago, her original intent was to get back into stretching to increase her flexibility. Although she's always been active in fitness, as she got older she started noticing a change in her body, and wanted to do something that would push her beyond her limits.
“I've always been interested in what you can do with you body, and I've always taken dance classes, so fitness is just an extension of me challenging myself physically and mentally and sharpening my tools."
Through meditation and discipline, Shelah continued to grow in all areas of her life, but it wasn't until her partner Ace Hood expressed interest in doing yoga that the practice begin to not only impact her life, but her relationship as well.
Shelah was admittedly surprised that Ace was open to yoga, mainly because of the stigma that yoga is a feminine practice, despite becoming more popular amongst males. But the artist, who is also athletic and does MMA training, was looking for something that would add stretching to his strenuous workouts. “Ace is an open person and he's very smart, so he can tune into when something can be good to you, and he's like I'll give it a try at least. But he was actually really interested in yoga before I introduced him he just never had the opportunity."
Not wanting to get his feet wet in a formal class (let's be real, it's can be distracting to be in a room of women contorting their bodies into unimaginable positions), Shelah reached out to a Racheal Weathers—a self-taught yoga guru who goes by Yoga Racheal, and who has gained a massive following on social media—who agreed to do private sessions with the couple while they were in Los Angeles for the summer.
“I followed her for like a year before that, and I remember thinking look what she's doing with her body! I'm attracted to people who do interesting things with their body, because it's a reflection of other things to me. I saw her discipline, she's super flexible, and can do all of these cool poses. She used to move me man," says Shelah.
The first session was intense. One that Racheal remembers being full of laughs and tears as the couple learned to come together as one through partner yoga. “When couples do [yoga] together, it's just total different connections. On a physical level, it's like if you do something wrong they're going to fall and vice versa. And the connection is just different; I feel like it taps into a whole other part of the brain, a whole other part of the emotional ecosystem in our bodies. It definitely creates a deeper connection," says Racheal.
Shelah accredits Racheal's soft style of leadership to making the session peaceful and productive. They pushed past their weaknesses and learned to be strong in areas where the other lacked. For Shelah, it was her core and arm strength that needed work. For Ace, his flexibility.
It also helped bring the couple closer together as they mastered each other's love languages. “I would say ultimately they're communication increased. Not that they had bad communication, but it got better and better," Racheal says.
And of course, adding to their sex life didn't hurt either.
“Intimacy happens in the mind first, so I think yoga helps you to become more in tuned with yourself," Shelah says. “When we're in tune with our own selves and become more comfortable with ourselves, then you become more comfortable with your partner."
Shelah also noticed a change in how Ace approached life. As a rapper, the “can't stop, won't stop" mantra is real. Running from show to show and in and out of studios at all hours of the night leaves little time for rest, and being in the game where everybody claims themselves to be hustlers, it's no wonder that sitting still can sometimes feel uncomfortable. But yoga forced Ace Hood to slow down, breathe, and take a moment to get his thoughts together. Now it's nothing for him to wake up and sit in silence for 10 minutes before paper chasing.
Shelah says in awe of her partner, “I think he's so brave. I used to tell him that in the beginning, just being with a black girl who has natural hair and not being afraid to go out and meditate, I think it's brave for somebody in his position. He's going to wake the game up and let them know what time it is!"
As far as the overall impact to their relationship? “I would say it changed many parts of our relationship. The fundamental idea of yoga, if I understand correctly, is yoga and meditation are together. Because it takes the meditation to soothe yourself and actual tangible actions that you have to do. And that's why it's beneficial for a couple because it goes both ways."
As the saying goes, couples who sweat together, stay together—great sex is just a bonus.
- Shelah Marie Ace Hood Marriage - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Yoga Sex Positions: Poses That Improve Your Sex Life - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- The Best Yoga Poses For An Emotional Release - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, & Wellness ›
- Ace Hood & Shelah Marie's Wedding Was Everything! - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
- Principle-Based Partner Yoga with Elysabeth Williamson ›
- 7 Benefits Of Partner Yoga + 5 Poses To Get You Started ›
- 7 Couples Yoga Poses for Beginners That'll Bring You Closer ... ›
- PARTNER YOGA POSES FOR BEGINNERS - YouTube ›
- Partner Yoga | YogaGlo ›
- 10 partner yoga poses for building intimacy | Well+Good ›
- 10 Yoga Poses to Do with a Partner - Health ›
- @theshelahmarie • Instagram photos and videos ›
- Shelah Marie ›
- Shelah Marie (@ShelahMarie) | Twitter ›
- ABOUT — Soul Study with Shelah ›
- Curvy, Curly, Conscious ›
- Meditation Mixtape by Shelah Marie on Spotify ›
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images